“Big Love” boldly tackles controversial and political themes

CSUN students performed for the first time in the Valley Performing Arts Center’s black box theater Friday night.

The theater department presented Charles Mee’s “Big Love”, a bold rendition of the classic Greek play, “Suppliant Maidens” by Aeschylus.

Although the Greek drama was originally performed in 463 BC., the modern rendition, directed by Christine Menzies, stays true to the original’s themes of love, sexism, identity and marriage.

The drama centers on 50 Greek women who flee to Italy in an attempt to avoid being forced into unwanted marriages. Chaos ensues when the women are persistently pursued by their prospective husbands.

Controversial themes like rape, violence, and sexism made for a wild and entertaining mix on stage. CSUN students took on the challenge of the difficult subject matter and delivered an emotional and unapologetic spectacle complete with provocative sexual scenes and brief nudity.

Big Love successfully delivers various viewpoints on love, marriage, and sex from both the female and male perspective. The play’s plot and outcome constantly reverse the roles of the victims and the aggressors.

Graduate student, Yollotl Lopez, 21, said she brought boyfriend Gus Quinn, 22, civil engineering major, to the show as an early Valentine’s Day gift.

“I heard about the show from one of the actors in the production,” Lopez said. “I love theater.”

Lopez said she loved the production’s dark themes and the way they were executed on stage.

“It’s something different and fresh,” said Lopez. “I think it’s wonderful to be able to say these things out loud. It’s about screaming and shouting these political issues.”

Quinn said he was enjoying himself as well, describing the play as “interesting.”

“It (the play) convincingly puts out these arguments from multiple sides,” he said. “It’s a very brave attempt.”

Lopez said her passion for live performance has rubbed off on Quinn.

“I’ve really grown to love student theater,” Quinn said.

CSUN students were not the only ones in attendance at the Big Love premiere. Milton and Jean Paris, locals who have been attending CSUN performances for ten years, said they were thrilled to experience the new “experimental” space at VPAC.

“We have season tickets (to VPAC),” Milton said. “We’ve been coming to CSUN performances for at least ten years.”

Jean said the play’s subject matter and bold concepts were “shocking”

“There is so much emotion,” she said. “I’m not used to this type of performance, but I think they’re doing an excellent job.”

Milton said he has seen explicit productions that he felt were done for sheer shock value.

“This is not one of those productions,” he said. “This was very well done.”